Buddhists are typically great walkers and walking meditators, walking both to get somewhere, pilgrim-style, and for the sheer sake of journeying along a worthy path. Their big prize, of course, their “goal,” is Enlightenment and its sub-genres compassion, empathy, kindness, and shared happiness through mutual relief from suffering. One could do worse than follow or practice Buddhism.
That scroll message from the Dalai Lama, about life’s meaning emerging from our contributions to other people’s happiness, is not so different from other admirable statements of what meaning means. William James’s concise summary is still my favorite:
The solid meaning of life is always the same eternal thing,— the marriage, namely, of some unhabitual ideal, however special, with some fidelity, courage, and endurance; with some man’s or woman ‘s pains.—And, whatever or wherever life may be, there will always be the chance for that marriage to take place. “What Makes a Life Significant”
But, back to Buddhist walkers…
In Wanderlust: A History of Walking, Rebecca Solnit quotes a scholar saying that a Buddhist practitioners are walkers insofar as they do not think of themselves as residing permanently in any one locale but are transient of the spirit, unmoored, unsituated, and thus abiding in “emptiness.”
Well, I get that. But I’d put it more positively. In my own experience, anywhere I can walk is home. And since I can walk anywhere, home is everywhere. I’m not homeless, my abode is not empty, it’s full and getting fuller with every new lap, hike, and orbit.
Walkers are cosmopolitans, as Carl Sagan liked to say, citizens of the cosmos. We’re right at home here. We belong.
And did you hear? Next month we’re getting our pale portrait updated!